Why Do People Yawn?

Why Do People Yawn

If just reading the title made you yawn, you are at the right place. Strange, isn’t it, how even in the written form yawning compels yawning? Or is it really like that? This phenomenon is shrouded in mystery. Everybody does it, including our pets. There are many theories as to why we do it.

But, if you are asking yourself, “why do we yawn?” just so that you would be able to stop doing so when your coworker is telling you about their boring birthday party, you’ll probably be disappointed. But, if you are genuinely puzzled by this strange mystery, we’ve got you covered.

The most popular theory claims the process helps our body get more oxygen. However, this theory does not hold water anymore. Read on to see what yawning suggests about you, your brain temperature, and other interesting facts.

 

Facts

What exactly is a yawn? It’s an involuntary motion. When a person yawns, he opens his mouth widely, inhales deeply, and then exhale. It all takes just a few seconds, six on average. It’s common for one to close their eyes when yawning.

Everyone knows we do it because we are tired. However, there’s more to it. Theories range from sheer boredom to lack of oxygen in the brain. Some researchers claim that it is a response to individuals in our proximity who have “status.” Back in the cave-dwelling days, when the alpha yawned, it was time to go to sleep.

While all of these theories are legit to some extent, it’s essential to differentiate between fact and fiction.

Causes

Cooling The Brain

If you are studying or concentrating, you might find yourself sitting there with your mouth wide open quite often. All the work your brain does cause is to heat up. Inhaling and exhaling with your mouth widely open helps your brain cool down.

So, if you find yourself doing it before dusk, that’s your body telling you to wake up. The fluids circulate faster and the blood flow increases when you open your mouth wide. It sounds strange, but it does the trick.

excessive yawning

A Change of State

You may yawn when your brain transitions to different activities or times of the day. It’s the body’s way of telling us that something is going on. For instance, you might be ding that when it’s bedtime, and you’re preparing for sleep.

We do it when we are bored because the body is switching from alertness and focus to distraction and energy.  When you’re doing some activity, like working, it’s best to take a break every one and a half hours. A walk would be great. Think of it as a signal to get up and move about.

Boredom

The action doesn’t necessarily mean someone’s bored. But, it does not rule our boredom, either. Our brain’s temperature drops when it is not properly stimulated. That can encourage yawning.

Bedtime

yawningYou become less alert when the sun goes down. That’s when we start yawning. Despite the many mysteries surrounding this action, scientists have established that certain chemicals in our brain can cause yawning.

One of the main reasons we perform this bodily function right before bed is the adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH). ACHT spikes at night.

Tiredness

Yawning increases the heart rate, thus giving you a quick burst of energy. This is one theory behind the reason why do we yawn when we are tired. So, if you find yourself doing it before dusk, that’s your body telling you to wake up.

Respiratory Function

Most up-to-date research disputes this theory, but many scientists still think that excessive yawning happens when our blood needs more oxygen. There is some truth to that, for sure. More oxygen is pushed through the system because of the faster heartbeat caused by yawning.

Communication

Long-time ago, people didn’t communicate in words. Back in the day, humans used various signals to transmit their thoughts to others. One of those signals was yawning. This is how a person told others that they are tired or bored. While we have developed language in the meantime, some things appear to have stayed the same.

Is Yawning Contagious?

Perhaps you can assume the answer to this one. It’s as contagious as laughter. It spreads like wildfire. Research shows that 50% of people yawn just by seeing someone else do it on video!

The activity passes back and forth, even between different animals. If you have a cat, you might have caught yourself yawning right after them sometimes, or you might have caught them doing if after you have done it. There is some proof that we are more likely to yawn after someone with whom we have a close relationship.

Since a dog is a man’s best friend, it only makes sense that the two are a proper yawning duet. Oh, and it turns out that just thinking about it can, in fact, make you yawn. By now, you must have done that a couple of times.

Prevention

why are yawns contagious

Chill Out

Quite literally. You’re less likely to yawn when you proactively make yourself cold. Don’t forget what we said; yawns cool down the brain. Try grabbing a popsicle, turning on the air conditioner, opening up a window, or applying an ice pack to your neck or head.

Take a Deep Breath

Even if you’re getting plenty of rest, you still might fall victim to uncontrollable and frequent yawns. Working on your breathing techniques might help you. Shallows breathing can trigger a reaction as it may deprive your brain of oxygen.

Get Out

Fresh air is good for many things. On top of that, it is invigorating. Changing your environment is an excellent way of staving off boredom and stimulating your mind. You can easily get fatigued if you’ve been sitting in one place for quite long. How long have you been starring at the screen? Get up and go outside. It will help you feel refreshed.

Drink Water and Rest

Good hydration and proper distribution of important sleep stages throughout the night are essential for many reasons. You might feel tired if you don’t drink enough water. Take a swig to get a quick energy boost. Invest in a good quality mattress that will suit your needs, and make sure you get a good night’s sleep. 

Stretch

If stepping out of the house is not an option, a quick stretch may do the job. Even though it might seem strange, your body is always talking to you. You should notice a quick and distinct improvement even if you stand up for two minutes to stretch your legs.

FAQ

Q: Why do some people yawn loudly?

A: Because they are rude. Seriously. There’s no scientific reason, necessity, or benefit behind it.

It’s similar to chewing loudly. It’s inconsiderate and there’s no need for it. No one likes that person. Don’t be that person.

Q: Do my yawns say something about my body language?

A: If you yawn during class or a business meeting, your peers or coworkers might consider that to be a sign of boredom or tiredness. It will likely signal to the people around you, depending on how openly you do it.

For instance, depending on what other people know about the way you are and on how subtle the behavior is, they’ll probably assume it is the one or the other.

Q: What causes excessive yawning?

Excessive yawning may be a symptom of an underlying issue. Don’t worry; it still won’t kill you. The most apparent reason behind excessive yawning is lack of sleep. You are likely to find yourself doing that often if you are sleep-deprived. Drowsiness is a side effect of some drugs and can also be the culprit. Antihistamines, antidepressants, and many kinds of pain relievers can cause fatigue. In turn, it leads to frequent yawning.

why do you yawn

If your yawns come with isolated pain, brain fog, or some other, similar issues, you might have an underlying health issue. That issue can be a heart problem, brain condition, or sleep disorder.  Something called the vagus nerve might be the root cause. It’s pronounced like Vegas, but isn’t as nearly as fun. You should talk to your doctor if you are experiencing other unusual symptoms.

Q: Why do your eyes water when you yawn?

A: Your face scrunches up when you yawn. You are likely to either squeeze your eyes until they are almost completely shut or just close them. It can cause your eyes to water up as it puts pressure on the lacrimal glands located under your eyebrows.

Not everyone’s eyes water. Either way, it’s normal. There’s nothing to worry about. If you are experiencing pain, irritation, or uncomfortable dryness, then it’s time to visit a doctor. Otherwise, you’re fine.

Q: Is it spiritual and is it important?

A: Some theories are perhaps a bit unorthodox, but still plausible. Or, at least fun. In Hebrew, nishama is the word for both spirit and breath. Is it just a coincidence?

When you yawn it is your body’s primary way to stretch and release the neck and jaw muscles. You can always learn how to make yourself yawn, as it is an essential way for releasing stress.

Conclusion

The more you know about your body, the more there is to find out. Questions about why do we yawn, breed more questions. Luckily, there are a lot of interesting and logical theories out there. Just of curiosity, how many times have you yawned while reading this?

Sources:

The thermoregulatory theory of yawning: what we know from over 5 years of research – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/